Like all medical procedures, breast augmentation surgeries can have side effects. One rare but often painful side effect of breast-related procedures, including reductions, implants, mastectomies, and breast lifts, is Mondor’s Cord or Mondor thrombophlebitis.

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What Is Mondor’s Cord?

First depicted in 1869 by Faage and then more clearly explained in 1939 by Henri Mondor, Mondor’s Cord is a condition that affects the vascular system in the chest and breast area, especially those veins that are closest to the surface of the skin. Women comprise nearly 75 percent of all Mondor’s disease patients and are most likely to experience the disease between the ages of 30 and 60.

When Mondor’s disease first appears in a patient, veins around the chest area become bright red and tender because of a blood clot in the superficial vein. These veins then turn into tough, painless cords. Mondor’s Cords can form from the areola, underneath the breast and run onto the abdomen, within the arm pit and on the upper arm, and on the upper chest.

Although the patient will feel tenderness in the vein at first, after it turns into the cord, it will no longer cause discomfort. The cord will disappear on its own, generally within six months of the onset of Mondor’s disease.  

Giovanni André P. Viana and Fabricio M. Okano, in a study published in 2008, found that any type of trauma, including mastectomies and breast augmentations, can cause Mondor’s disease. The incision site will determine where the cord forms. For instance, women who have breast implants inserted through an incision in their armpit (the axillary incision area) or women who have had mastectomies may find that the cord forms in the armpit area and on the upper chest. Those women who had periareolar incisions around the nipple may experience Mondor’s Cords that develop on the areola and travel down the breast to the abdomen.

How Is Mondor’s Cord Treated?

Because Mondor’s disease is not dangerous, and will go away on its own after a few weeks, only the symptoms and not the disease itself are treated. Physicians may encourage their patients to take aspirin or other non-prescription pain killers and to apply heat to the area to increase blood flow. Physicians will not prescribe steroids or antibiotics for the disease.

Researchers have concluded that Mondor’s disease is benign and does not cause any other diseases though some researchers are concerned about the relationship between trauma to the breast, such as that caused by cancer, and the appearance of Mondor’s Cords. Mammograms, however, clearly differentiate between Mondor’s Cords and irregular lumps or tumors within the breast tissue, allowing radiologists and your physician to determine whether or not the Mondor’s Cord is indicative of breast cancer.

Mondor’s Cord is a rare, benign disease that affects few women around the world every year. Your physician will be able to provide you with information on treating the discomfort, determine whether or not you should undergo a mammogram, and help reassure you of the nature of the disease.